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7 Things I Learned From Having 3 Jobs In 12 Months

July 16, 2016 by
job-hopping

Job hopping has long been considered the ultimate career sin, with many employers and recruiters saying it can have an impact on the way they perceive a potential candidate.

Although I would never label myself a ‘job hopper’, I’ve worked at three different companies in the last 12 months. I had good reasons to switch between each job but I can see why some people with more traditional attitudes to workplace loyalty would accuse me of hopping around. Some people might consider three jobs in the space of a year to be career suicide but it’s had numerous benefits for me.

It’s helped me identify my weaknesses, hone my skills, and negotiate a better salary. I’ve learnt far more in the last 12 months from having 3 jobs than I believe I’d have learnt if I’d stuck around in the first role. Most importantly, thanks to my refusal to ‘make do’, I’m now in a job that makes me happy and leaves me feeling fulfilled. In fact, I love the idea of working for this company for years and years to come!

Here’s a mini timeline of my jobs. Although I’ve had 3 jobs in the last 12 months, I thought I’d include my first full time job in the list too:

[Job #1 – Content editor at an online retailer – May 2013 – June 2014 (not in the last 12 months, obvs)]

Job #2 – SEO copywriter at an advertising agency – June 2014 – August 2015

Job #3 – SEO executive at an SEO agency – September 2015 – January 2016

Job #4 – Digital content executive at a digital marketing agency – February 2016 – present

7 Things I Learned From Having 3 jobs In 12 Months

1. Job hopping can help you identify ways to improve

When I started my first full time job back in 2013, I thought I was an excellent writer. It was only when I started Job #2 that I realised how much room for improvement there was. More senior members of staff highlighted where I  was going wrong and taught me to be more critical of my own work. There were times where I couldn’t help but take the criticism personally but it really helped to improve my writing.

Even now, I often find myself reading my blog posts and thinking “If I was back in Job #2, what would they say about this?” I then tear the post apart and make it better.

While Job #2 prioritised quality, Job #3’s approach was more… let’s just say it was very speed focused. As much as I hated this job, it did teach me just how much I can achieve in a short space of time if I really put my mind to it. I learnt how important it is to focus on one thing at a time, ignore distractions, and just get stuff done. My short attention span is definitely one of my greatest weaknesses and this job brought this right out into the open.

Thankfully, I’m now in a job that I love. I’m able to bring together all the things I learnt in my previous jobs and achieve more than ever before. Inspired by Job #2, quality is my primary focus. But there’s always that constant reminder from Job #3 to get things done as quickly as possible rather than fussing over it for too long. I try to remind myself that ‘done is better than perfect’.

I realised that if I really wanted to progress my career, I’d be better off focusing on one thing and becoming an expert at it

2. You don’t have to be good at everything

Part of the reason I left Jobs #1 and #2 is because I wanted to become more well-rounded in the digital marketing realm. Inspired by my more technical and analytical friends, I wanted to become a jack of all trades and be some kinda one woman band who could do everything.

Turns out this wasn’t actually the best approach. When job hunting, I made things harder on myself by applying for jobs that I wasn’t fully qualified for. In interviews I’d babble away and try to make it sound like I knew what I was talking about. It was embarrassing. I was wasting everyone’s time.

It was only when I started Job #3 that I realised writing content really is my strong point. That’s what I’m good at. That’s where my talent lies. I realised that if I really wanted to progress my career, I’d be better off focusing on one thing and becoming an expert at it, rather than trying to mimic other people’s skills.

Walking out those doors on my last day was perhaps one of the most liberating moments of my life. Although I didn’t have another job to go to, I remember walking to the bus stop with my head held high and dramatically thinking “I have my whole life ahead of me!”

3. If your job is making you ill, get out of there if you can

Within weeks of starting Job #3, I was riddled with stress and anxiety. I used to hate getting up in the morning and would dread the day ahead. I often had nightmares about work and would wake up with a sense of sheer panic. There was one occasion where I cried in the toilets on my lunch break. It got to a stage where I knew my only option was to leave. I handed in my notice first thing on a Monday morning and left on the Friday.

Walking out those doors on my last day was perhaps one of the most liberating moments of my life. Although I didn’t have another job to go to, I remember walking to the bus stop with my head held high and dramatically thinking “I have my whole life ahead of me!” I was excited for the adventure that lay ahead. Of course, I was a little scared about no longer being in full time employment. But I knew I’d made the right decision. I didn’t set fire to anything or smash up any cars but nevertheless, I felt a little bit like this…

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The way I see it, an emergency fund gives you freedom and power and choices.

4. A solid emergency fund gives you freedom and power

If it wasn’t for my healthy savings account, I would have found it a lot harder to quit my job without another one to go to. I probably would still be there right now, hating life.

Even if you’re happy in your current role, I urge you to start building an emergency fund if you don’t have one already. You never know when it might come in useful. With a hefty ‘F*ck Off Fund‘ stashed away, you’ll be able to make positive career choices without having to worry about money. You could:

  • Quit your job without another one to go to
  • Quit your job, move abroad, find a new role when you’re over there (Brexit permitting)
  • Quit your job and start a new one that pays less but has better prospects
  • Quit your job and go travelling

The way I see it, an emergency fund gives you freedom and power and choices.

I thought “I’ve got this. I can nail this. This is what I’m good at.” So, again, I asked for a little more money.

5. Switching jobs can make it easier to negotiate a better salary.

Switching jobs has helped me negotiate a better salary.

When I first started Job #1, I was pretty much on minimum wage. After 3 months I was given a pay rise and, when a more senior colleague left, I was given more responsibility and another pay rise.

I started Job #2 on the same salary and, while I would have liked more money, in all honesty I never felt like I deserved a pay rise. I still had a lot to learn and wouldn’t have felt comfortable asking for more money unless I could say “I’ve done this, this and this. I’ve helped the company do this. I’m this valuable.”

Job #3 came with more responsibility so when they asked for my salary expectations, I negotiated a little higher than I’d earned in Job #2.

When I saw the description for Job #4, I thought “I’ve got this. I can nail this. This is what I’m good at.” So, again, I asked for a little more money.

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Your job should make you happy, teach you new skills, allow you to utilise your talents, and pay you appropriately. If your job doesn’t help you grow, it’s time to go!

6. There’s no point being loyal to the wrong job

According to one survey, 41% of baby boomers believe people should stay in their jobs for five years before moving while 21% say you should stick around for at least 4 years. Personally, I think this is a ridiculous attitude to have.

Placing an arbitrary time stamp on a position is not only detrimental to the individual, it’s also bad for the company and other workers. If your heart isn’t in it, you’re not going to be working at your best, the company won’t be as productive as it could be, and other workers may have to pick up your slack. This type of ‘loyalty’ is meaningless and no good for anybody!

Your job should make you happy, teach you new skills, allow you to utilise your talents, and pay you appropriately. If your job doesn’t help you grow, it’s time to go!

Bosses need to realise that in order to retain their most talented workers and avoid unnecessary recruitment costs, they’ve got to give them a reason to stay. It’s a two way street.

7. Bad bosses don’t deserve your loyalty

There was once a time when all workers were at the mercy of their employers. No matter what the boss said or did, employees would bite their tongue and deal with it, fearing they’d lose their jobs if they spoke out. Thankfully, times are changing and it’s becoming less and less acceptable to treat your staff like shit.

Many employers look down on job hoppers because they associate them with a lack of loyalty. After all, the last thing an employer wants is to recruit a new member of staff only for them to leave a few months later. But bosses need to realise that in order to retain their most talented workers and avoid unnecessary recruitment costs, they’ve got to give them a reason to stay. It’s a two way street. Treat your staff with respect and they’re more likely to treat you with respect. If you treat them like dirt, those who can leave, will leave.

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Benefits Of Job Hopping

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  • Joe

    Great post!

    I’m a freelance content writer so found this interesting.

    What sort of work do you do in your roles? Is it mainly writing on your own or is there other stuff going on?

    Sometimes I feel like I’m missing out by not working in a team or on something bigger. But then I like the freedom of being self-employed…

  • David @ Thinking Thrifty

    I had a period like this 4 years ago. 5 jobs in 18 months, but I wasn’t willing to settle until I was happy. It lead me to the best job I’ve ever had and I’m still loving it to this day. We’re here for a good time not a long time!!

  • David @ Thinking Thrifty

    I had a year period to this 4 years ago. 5 jobs in 18 months, but I wasn’t willing to settle until I was happy. It lead me to the best job I’ve ever had and I’m still loving it to this day. We’re here for a good time not a long time!!

  • Love this! Great takeaways and glad you’ve found yourself in a better role. I’m big on focusing on your strengths. I used to think I needed to work on design and technical/basic coding but those are just not things that come naturally to me, so I’m playing to my strengths in content specifically.